The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that two U.S. servicemen, missing from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
The two servicemen are Army Air Force Staff Sgts. Robert E. Howard, 21, of Moravia, Iowa, and David R. Kittredge, 22, of Oneida, Wis. The individually identified remains of Howard were buried July 19, 2014, in Moulton, Iowa. The individually identified remains of Kittredge were buried Aug. 13, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis. The remains that could not be individually identified will be buried as a group in a single casket, May 27, 2015, in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.
On April 16, 1945, three aircraft were flying in a formation on a bombing raid to Wittenberg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, when the pilots of two other aircraft reported seeing Howard and Kittredge’s aircraft hit by enemy fire. The B-26B descended into a deep dive and exploded upon ground impact.
In 2007, a German aircraft researcher interviewed eyewitnesses, who reported seeing two deceased crew members buried near the crash site under an apple tree. He also reported the crew members as being exhumed in 1947 or 1948, by an allied recovery team.
In June 2012, a German national informed the U.S. government that he found possible human remains in Muhlanger, which he believed to have been associated with an April 1945, B-26B crash, and turned them over to the local police. In July 2012, a Department of Defense (DoD) team began excavating the site recovering human remains, personal effects and aircraft wreckage. DoD also took custody of the remains that the local German national had previously recovered.
To identify Howard’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools such as mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).
To identify Kittredge’s remains, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL also used mtDNA and dental comparisons, which matched his records.